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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Decline
by Tom Moeller  December 20, 2017

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index fell 4.9% last week (-8.0% y/y) following a 2.3% drop during the prior week. Purchase loan applications fell 5.5% (+0.8% y/y) following a 1.1% decline. Applications to refinance eased 3.2% (-14.4% y/y) following a 2.5% drop.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage of 3.70% was little changed w/w, but was up sharply from 3.46% in September. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan eased w/w to 4.27%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was fairly stable at 4.23%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate rose to 3.68%, up from September's low of 3.25%.

The average mortgage loan size improved to $285,200, up 4.4% y/y. For purchases, the average loan size increased to $313,300 (0.4% y/y); for refinancings, it rose to $261,100 (6.6% y/y).

Applications for adjustable rate loans declined 20.0% y/y, while applications for fixed rate loans fell 6.0% y/y.

The survey covers over 75% of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. The base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100. The figures for weekly mortgage applications and interest rates are available in Haver's SURVEYW database

MBA Mortgage Applications (%, SA) 12/15/17 12/08/17 12/01/17 Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total Market Index -4.9 -2.3 4.7 -8.0 14.9 17.6 -41.5
 Purchase -5.5 -1.1 2.4 0.8 12.3 14.8 -13.3
 Refinancing -3.2 -2.5 9.0 -14.4 17.3 19.7 -52.8
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.70 3.72 3.71 3.70 (Dec. '16) 3.22 3.37 3.54
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